“Sir, can I please borrow a pen?”

I hear this several times every day. Fifteen years ago, when I started on the road back into education, pen distribution was not something I ever considered would be part of my teaching. I have since come to incorporate pen-carrying into my pedagogy (penagogy?), and often wedge one behind an ear or in my pocket just so I don’t get caught short after all my students have cleaned out my collection for the lesson. 
I always carried a pen with me between the ages of 12 and 22. It just seemed like a resourceful thing to do. When Arnold Rimmer proudly said (in the British sitcom Red Dwarf) that he always carried a pen, I felt a conflicted combination of shame and vindication. I was happy because someone had confirmed for me that it was immensely sensible to carry a pen at all times, and I was ashamed because that someone had been Rimmer – one of the most endearingly despicable characters to ever grace the small screen. I stopped carrying a pen for the rest of my 20s.
When I was in primary school in Singapore, some friends and I started a pen workshop (no, pen licenses did not, and as far as I am aware, still does not exist over there). Other kids would bring their broken pens to us and we would restore them, transplanting full ink tubes into old casings. 
We charged 20 cents for this service. It was a good racket. So you see, the pen really is mightier (or more profitable anyway) than the sword.
I don’t have anything to say about mice. I just wanted to use a literary pun for my blog title.

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